Perils for Pedestrians

TV talk about people who walk

A Simple Request for a Trail

Despite the dozens of examples of successful trails along transmission corridors (see our Gallery of Power Line Right-of-Way Trails), there are still utility companies that greet their neighbors with No Trespassing signs rather than Welcome mats.


Utilities As Neighbors: PEPCO vs Transcontinental

What would we like to see? The "Rigby Community Trails Program". PEPCO Chairman Joseph Rigby could leave a tremendous legacy to the communities PEPCO serves. Decades from now, families could be walking on his trails along PEPCO's transmission lines, long after the recent problems with PEPCO's reliability are forgotten. However, the local government cannot build the trails without PEPCO's permission.

The Montgomery County Civic Federation wrote a letter to PEPCO requesting permission to build a trail from Cabin John Regional Park to Seneca Creek State Park.

Jerry Pasternak, Pepco Vice President for Maryland Affairs
Dear Mr. Pasternak:

The Montgomery County Civic Federation asks that you work with us and with area bicycling groups to initiate a trial pedestrian/bicycle path along PEPCO’s right-of-way from Westlake Road in Bethesda to Piney Meetinghouse Road in Potomac. This right-of-way is very wide. It already has a gravel track which is occasionally used by vehicles to service cellular telephone towers located in the right-of-way. We believe it has great potential as both a safe, off-road bicycling commuter route and as a recreational path. Electric utility rights-of-way are already being used as commuter & recreational paths in a number of jurisdictions including paths in Dominion Power & Electric’s right-of-way in Arlington and in Fairfax County.

PEPCO’s willingness to consider this expanded use serving an additional public need would be an excellent boost for your public relations. We hope you will consider meeting with us to discuss this request further.

Sincerely,
Peggy Dennis
Immediate Past President
Montgomery County Civic Federation

PEPCO gave a flat refusal, citing "safety and liability considerations".

May 28, 2013
Ms Peggy Dennis
Immediate Past President
Montgomery County Civic Federation
11115 Fawsett Road
Potomac, Maryland 30854
Dear Ms Dennis:

This is in response to your request, on behalf of the Montgomery Count yCivic Federation (MCCF), that the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) work with MCCF and area bicycling groups to initiate a trial pedestrian/bicycle path along Pepco’s right-of-way from Westlake Road in Bethesda to Piney Meetinghouse Road in Potomac.

We have reviewed your letter and have concluded that we cannot agree to your proposal due to safety and liability considerations.

In limited instances and under very specific conditions, Pepco has granted a license or permit for a path that crosses our right-of-way in order to connect two portions of an existing trail on opposite sides of that right-of-way. As a policy matter, however, we do not permit or license pedestrian and/or bicycle paths that run along our right-of-way.

I apologize for the delay in responding, but I wanted to make sure that we give all due consideration to your request.

Sincerely,
Jerry Pasternak

PEPCO's concerns can be addressed, as similar concerns have been addressed with other electric utilities across the United States. The Maryland Recreational Use Statute provides a liability shield to property owners who allow the public free recreational use of their land. See https://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/recreate/md_rec.htm. This statute has been upheld by the courts. http://www.courts.state.md.us/opinions/cosa/2002/726s01.pdf. PEPCO easily could do more for the communities they serve, by simply allowing local governments to build trails on their right of ways.


Transportation Right-of-Way Use by Pedestrians

Gallery of Right-of-Way Trails